Not far from here, at Deal’s Gap, NC, there’s a stretch of road known as “The Dragon Tail.” Any self-respecting motorcycle or sports car driver knows exactly what “The Dragon Tail” is! The “Tail” is said to have 318 curves in 11 miles! It begins on US 129 South, a 1/2 mile south of the TN/NC state line, and extends South for 11 miles! Since it is a Federal Highway, it is, of course, free!
There are 3 stories about how it came to be said that the “Tail” has 318 curves:
“ONE: The 318 in 11 was first mentioned by Pete Leary, owner of the Crossroads of Time Motel and Gas Station located at the Gap. Someone asked him how many curves were up the road and he answered straight out …. 318. Since then it has been taken as fact.
TWO: Several riders including Doug Snavely were sitting around the campfire one evening in the early 90s discussing the road while consuming a few brewskies. They decided to try to come up with a number to emphasize the twistiness of the road. After several rejections Doug said how about 318? His explanation ….. the road is US 129; add the first two numbers and you get a 3; multiply the last two numbers and you get 18. The number also just had a certain ring to it so from that night on it has been 318 curves in 11 miles.
THREE: Several early car drivers who tested the Dragon drove Dodges with 318 cubic inch engines. They used the number to denote the number of curves on the Dragon.
Many people have counted the curves and all come-up with different totals. To us a curve is each time you have to readjust your steering. One corner, say a decreasing radius, will have several curves in it as you turn the wheel more or back. You can count or believe whichever story you wish. Number TWO is thought to be the most accurate one.”
Special thanks to the Tail of the Dragon website for these stories and much of our other information!
Check Out This You Tube Video from Tail of the Dragon!
So to those who love the feeling of handling their vehicle on these curvy mountain roads, come one, come all to “The Dragon Tail!”
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